Changing Behaviour: One clean cookstove at a time

working stone with fire underneath and a woman adding wood under it

A new article written by Daniel Salinas, Technical Energy Advisor in SNV Vietnam, highlights the importance of user-oriented solutions in the clean cookstove sector and how approaches, such as behavioural change, can contribute to sustaining its adoption over time.

SNV’s Market Acceleration for Advanced Clean Cookstoves in the Greater Mekong Sub-region project, funded by our partner Energising Development (EnDev), has striven to develop sustainable markets for the introduction of cleaner and efficient biomass cookstoves in the region.

Every day, more than 3 billion people worldwide rely on wood, agricultural residues or other forms of biomass to satisfy their cooking necessities; predominantly employing inefficient and polluting cookstoves. These technologies impact the health of particularly women and children who are normally responsible for the cooking process in developing countries. In Vietnam alone, at least 50% of the population still use solid biomass fuel for cooking; leading to an annual average of 45,000 deaths in the country due to household air pollution.

A traditional stove user tends the fire while exposed to harmful emissions

A traditional stove user tends the fire while exposed to harmful emissions

As the project unfolded, fieldwork experiences evidenced that if a cookstove is unable to satisfy the user’s needs, the technology is likely to be short-lived. In our efforts to promote sustainable markets for cleaner cooking technologies, we identified common obstacles faced by users when employing a clean cookstove such as: having difficulties in operating their stove and showing concerns regarding their stove’s durability.

Our study identified that adopting a technology inherently requires a willingness to adapt and embrace a new norm or behaviour. Consequently, a unique adoption study was implemented in Vietnam aiming to delve deeper into the impacts that modifying cooking patterns and conducts, through behavioural change, can have on long-term adoption. This behaviour-centered approach developed tools to shape and improve the knowledge in the clean cooking space, provide physical solutions to observed bottlenecks, and create an open setting where users can exchange their experiences and ideas via focus group discussions.

Coupling behavioural change with our dissemination efforts had positive impacts in the short and long term use of clean cookstoves. 86% of the households exposed to behavioural change were using their clean cookstove at least once per week after the first month and 57% of them continued to do so after six months. In contrast, 64% of households not exposed to behavioural change would use their stove at least once per week after the first month and only 30% would use it after six months. Increased clean cookstove usage levels and a reduction of traditional stove dependency also led to lower particulate matter emissions and household air pollution attributed to cooking.

Moreover, households exposed to behavioural change showed higher satisfaction levels and willingness to pay for their clean cookstove when compared to households who were not receiving this approach.

User exposed to behavioural change, now using a clean cookstove

User exposed to behavioural change, now using a clean cookstove

Behavioural Change approaches provided households with the opportunity to overcome commonly faced obstacles that would otherwise possibly taint their cooking experience with clean cookstoves. User-focused solutions, and working hand-in-hand with those exposed to the impacts of traditional stoves, is ultimately a necessary step that we need to take in order to curb the negative effects of household air pollution in daily cooking.

Click here to read Daniel’s full article, “Changing Behaviour: One Clean Cookstove at a Time”

Click here to read a two-page summary of the study, “Reducing Emissions by Increasing the Adoption of Clean Stoves with Behavioural Change Techniques”